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A brave move, but one that I felt was so right – and that was to do something so completely different to Les Mis that it would make any direct comparison an impossibility, but I think it really paid off.

A good set, that depicted the two different rooms that had been knocked into one at some stage – this wasn’t immediately apparent, and I heard a couple of people asking why the room had two different wallpapers – but within the context of the play it made sense, and was referred to later in the play.  I liked the fact that the actual room was opened out so that the cast had plenty of room for movement.

Props and set dressing were all very good and in keeping with the era, as were the costumes and hairstyles – every attention to detail which does make a difference to the overall look and feel of a production.

It was good to see a number of new faces to HHTC – all of whom gave a really good account of themselves.   It was also good to see that young people also got involved with the technical side of the production, a good learning process for the future, and well-done to HHTC for encouraging this.

I was very impressed with Isobel Goldby-Briggs as Lettie Blacklock – she got the feeling of an older lady very well, speaking with confidence and clarity, making it difficult to realise that this was a young person playing someone probably three or more times her real age.  Excellent portrayal, I hope we see more of Isobel at HHTC.

I also liked Tess Askins as Mitzi – a difficult role, as she needed to be both feisty and subservient, which I think Tess captured well, making the most of some funny lines.

Zoey Bothwell captured the essence of Miss Marple – again I felt that Zoey acted up to Miss Marple’s age very convincingly – with the slightly busybody feel.  I liked the relationship between her and Inspector Craddock – his slightly wry acceptance that her view was one to be respected and acted on.

Lawrence Baker was Inspector Craddock, he created a good character with authority, and really held the stage when he was leading the enquiry.  

I was a little perturbed at the gunshots – they were exceedingly loud and did not sound right, which took away from the authenticity of the production, that had been built up and maintained throughout the production, but that was the only incongruity.

I would have liked a little more projection from some members of the cast – there seemed to be a couple of ‘dead’ spots on stage – one down left and the other up right on the sofa.

Emily Woodham created a good Julia Simmons – and I noticed the hand-clenching without being aware of why I should – which was obviously explained towards the end.  Emily also projected well throughout.

Liselle Lawrence again had a hard job creating the character of Bunnie – as she had to get the rather forgetful nature which she did well, but I thought at times she needed to be a bit more disturbed by her memory lapses.  But otherwise a good portrayal.

Callum Harbour gave us a rather devil-may-care Patrick Simmons, the carefree student type – nicely done.

I liked Annette Strachan as Phillippa – I thought she got the essence of the character well, however I would have liked more projection throughout, as some of her lines were slightly lost to the audience.

Rebecca Pavlik was the rather repressed and strait-laced Mrs Swettenham, again a difficult character but one which came over well.  She appeared proud of, but slightly worried by her son Edmund, not knowing exactly what his involvement was!  Thomas Stewart played Edmund very nicely.

I feel I should mention Alicia Lawrence who played Rudi – if only to say that she died nicely!!

The final cast member was Harry Cambridge as Sergeant Mellors – a small part and I think he achieved a good contrast to the Inspector.

So, overall a good production, classy and well-observed by the cast.  I am sure it was a difficult production for both the Director and the cast, as they needed to get the gravitas of older people, whilst making it interesting and three-dimensional for the audience.  Which I think in the main they achieved.

Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company - Youth Section


date: 1st March 2013

Boxmoor Playhouse

Director:  Mariam Gaballa-Gill


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